Just a little Saturday silliness…
06 Apr 2013 11 Comments
Just a little Saturday silliness…
01 Apr 2013 14 Comments
She waits for him in a copse of trees just beyond the creek, amid shadows of cedars that rise from the decaying tangle of their fallen kin. Sleek and petite, she moves with a lithe certainty that scarcely disturbs the fragile tendrils of new growth struggling from the forest floor. She is built for speed but has reached the limit of her endurance, and seeks cover in the dusky coolness of the woods. She is vulnerable here, but the miles she has covered today have taken their toll; she sinks to the loam with a soft exhale of relief and is still. A tiny pulse beats a frantic rhythm in the white curve of her throat, belying the ease of her repose. The tender pink shell of her ear catches a sound in the distance and she stiffens, instantly alert. An eternity of heartbeats passes as she waits; is he here? She raises her head to the wind but it carries no scent of him. Tension drains from her stance and she moves toward the enticing whisper of the creek. As she drops her head to drink, her own reflection gives her pause. In the bottomless caramel depths of her eyes swirls the instinctive wisdom of her lineage, flickering with the deep sadness and unremitting terror of the hunted. Even if she manages to elude him this time, he will never abandon his desire to possess her.
He sees subtle movement at the tree line, and it takes every ounce of willpower he possesses not to bolt from concealment. To reveal himself now would be foolhardy. She is fast and can easily outrun him, but he has been tracking her for hours and she is tired. Tall grass and a favorable wind direction should get him close enough to take her. His lips curl back over gleaming teeth into a ferocious smile, and a soft, satisfied growl escapes. This time he will have her. Adrenaline floods his veins like molten madness, consigning domesticated niceties into fiery oblivion. The primal drumming of his heart pounds in his ears, but he imagines he hears her muted footfalls through the undergrowth. He watches her through slitted, cunning eyes as she slips from the shelter of the trees. He readies himself, muscles contracting, forged by bloodlust into rigid bands beneath his skin. He snarls, leaps and begins to run. As he closes in, the tantalizing scent of her panic urges him to greater speed. She is almost his….
I look up from my laptop and watch the old man twitch in his sleep, smiling at the staccato chuffs, rumbles and snores as he dreams. We’ve been together almost fourteen years now, and even fourteen more still wouldn’t be long enough. I’ve seen him go from vibrant youth to frail geriatric. He’s lost most of his teeth, his fur is patchy, his skin is fragile and he’s gotten more than a little cranky, but I love him with all my heart. The phone rings twice before I can grab it, and he raises his head from his pillow in obvious annoyance. Grumbling under his breath, he heaves a sigh and sinks back into his bed. I finish the call, then reach down and gently skritch his chin. He opens one eye in tacit acknowledgement of my affection, then drifts off to sleep again.
30 Mar 2013 5 Comments
I’ve had this song stuck in my head all day. Fortunately I’m a fan of John Denver so it’s all good. It reminds me of my Uncle Lewis, who also grew up on a farm (although not in Kansas) and was a major influence in my life.
30 Mar 2013 8 Comments
My old girl Annie on this foggy morning. She’s the one I wrote about in Cold Comfort – The Solace of Solstice.
26 Mar 2013 13 Comments
(Author’s note: Yesterday there were tornadoes in Kentucky, today we’ve got snow and ice. Like everyone else, I’m starting to feel the strain of constantly being chilled to the bone and interminable shades of gray. So, I decided to take my own advice and count my blessings. I wrote this column for the local paper back in 2008. Hope you enjoy it.)
Every now and then, our world turns upside down. We are yanked out of our personal comfort zone and forced into an eyeball-to-eyeball confrontation with our own mortality. We all, whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, walk a fine line – the razor’s edge of existence – with every single breath we take. Perhaps it is some primal survival instinct that keeps us from dwelling on this, some intrinsic coping mechanism that urges us to quickly process traumatic events and then resume our everyday routine as soon as possible. We spare little, if any, time to ponder the tenuous nature of our time on this earth. But…every now and then…our Creator reaches down, bips us upside the head and commands our attention.
We all accept that Kentucky weather is predictable in its unpredictability. When 700 temperatures plummet to 300 within a day’s time we just shake our head, roll our eyes and wonder why we even bothered to put the long underwear back in the dresser drawer. But to see the wreckage from one week’s tornadoes covered by inch-thick ice the next week must surely give pause to even the most stoic among us. This is not just “Kentucky weather”. This is a stark reminder of how capricious the Fates can be, how what we often take for granted can be taken from us in the blink of an eye.It gets a little festive on my beloved hill the Tuesday night the tornadoes hit. For the last few weeks, we have been in some sort of weird pattern in which every Tuesday brings severe weather. Although the previous Tuesday’s winds seem to have howled a bit louder, it becomes evident that this Tuesday’s storm means business. Brief, fervent pleas tumble from my lips each time the house shakes, and even the cats deign to join the dogs and me as we huddle in the bathroom. When it is all over, a few tree limbs are the only damage on my farm. The house withstands the onslaught, the barn and the horses are fine, so I offer a heartfelt prayer of thanksgiving and go to bed. After seeing the enormous property damage done throughout the county, it really hits me that it’s only by the good Lord’s grace that no one was killed. More prayer then, and grateful wonder at the mercy shown to all.
That’s what it comes down to really, doesn’t it? It’s all about finding those grateful moments. In the dark times a little extra effort might be required, but if you keep at it, focus on finding even one thing to be thankful for, gratitude gets a little easier each day. The coolest part is, even the smallest benevolence can produce sizeable joy; ducks on ice, for instance.
On the first gray, dreary morning after the ice storm I dread going out, but my critters are first priority so I bundle up and gingerly make my way out onto the porch. The ducks immediately start clamoring to be let out of their pen, and thus begins one of the funniest things I have ever seen in my life. The minute I open the gate, they stampede out like they usually do. Instead of slapping across grass, however, their little webbed feet hit a solid sheet of ice. This is closely followed by their little feathered bottoms hitting the ice. I can almost hear “The Blue Danube Waltz” playing in the background; Da da da da dum (Splat! Quack! Splat! Quack!), da da da da dum (Splat! Quack! Splat! Quack!). Gospel truth, I laugh until I literally have tears in my eyes. The ducks seem to take offense at my helpless laughter, glaring at me as if their lack of traction is my fault.
After that the day seems a little brighter and a bit warmer. My burdens, whether real or imagined, feel much lighter. Each remembrance of that moment will bring laughter and thanks to God for a hilarious mercy shown on a dismal winter morning.
It’s ok to feel sorry for yourself sometimes. Go ahead and have a pity party, but make it a short one. Then find something, even the tiniest little thing, that makes you smile. Blessings aren’t that hard to find, and even a little bit of gratitude goes a long way.
21 Mar 2013 4 Comments
Waking from prescription sleep,
I move through molasses to the window.
Entranced by the fog, fields
smudged and damp with not-quite-vapor,
“I’ll write,” I think, anticipating
peace on a page.
But I’m too slow. By the time coffee’s ready
is desiccated by sunrise,
swept away by wind,
on tidying up the morning.
Harsh new clarity exposes
neglected chores that glitter with guilt.
A strand of spider-spun silk
arcs gently in the breeze,
an elegant tether from tree to earth.
I smile and put pen to paper.
19 Mar 2013 6 Comments
More often than I care to admit, my inner hillbilly overcomes my attempted Zen. Today was a prime example. One of the blogs I follow is Week Woman, which features feminist topics. I’ve found some other feminist writing to be strident and accusatory, much like a revival preacher in all-out “hellfire and brimstone” mode. That’s not the case with Week Woman, whose posts are well written, containing healthy doses of irony and wit. Today’s post, “No More Silencing”, really got me stirred up. I mean full tilt, righteously indignant, panties in a knot, screeching like a howler monkey stirred up. It was hillbilly vs Zen, and hillbilly opened up a Costco-sized can of whupass. Poor Zen never stood a chance.
Normally when I post a comment it’s with the feelings of the author in mind. I try to be complimentary (but only if I mean it), and/or funny. I was neither in my reply to “No More Silencing”. I was wound up tighter than an 8-day clock and more concerned with what I had to say than how it sounded. I suppose I thought it was implied that I agreed with her post. In this state of complete self-absorption, however, I inadvertently offended the author, who understandably thought my scathing comments were directed at her.
I didn’t realize my error until I read her reply to my comment, in which she calmly and surgically cut me off at the knees. I apologized immediately, which was the least I could do. The most I can do at this point is to ask those who read this to click on the links above. Best case scenario is added readers for her blog, bestest case scenario is an “Aha!” moment for those who read her post.
I could blame it on menopause or too much caffeine or rusty blogging skills, but ultimately I can only blame myself for offending her. I meant every word of my reply, but my diatribe was directed at the subject of the post, not the author. I am deeply sorry for my failure to make that clear. So readers, please visit the links above, and hopefully the author will come to see that although I am sometimes an ill-tempered old heifer, I’m not a complete ass.
18 Mar 2013 8 Comments
I remember reading this poem when I was nine or ten years old, in a book my grandfather salvaged from a trash bin. He worked on the county road crew, whose duties back then also included industrial trash collection. He would often bring home items he’d found and deemed useful; he was a “picker” before picking was cool. Knowing how much I loved to read, one evening he presented me with “Exploring Life Through Literature”, a high school textbook. Age appropriate? Not so much, but I was reading way above my grade level and was able to comprehend most of the essays, plays and poetry it contained.
I still have that book, and even now I’ll pull it from the bookcase and dive in, immersing myself in the brilliance contained between the battered covers.
A friend’s remark triggered the recollection of this piece by Scottish poet John Davidson. It’s a ballad of heinous betrayal and tenacious redemption, with an undercurrent of wry wit. I love the Devil’s line “My dear, I never lie outright”.
‘A letter from my love to-day!
Oh, unexpected, dear appeal!’
She struck a happy tear away,
And broke the crimson seal.
‘My love, there is no help on earth,
No help in heaven; the dead-man’s bell
Must toll our wedding; our first hearth
Must be the well-paved floor of hell.’
The colour died from out her face,
Her eyes like ghostly candles shone;
She cast dread looks about the place,
Then clenched her teeth and read right on.
‘I may not pass the prison door;
Here must I rot from day to day,
Unless I wed whom I abhor,
My cousin, Blanche of Valencay.
At midnight with my dagger keen,
I’ll take my life; it must be so.
Meet me in hell to-night, my queen,
For weal and woe.’
She laughed although her face was wan,
She girded on her golden belt,
She took her jewelled ivory fan,
And at her glowing missal knelt.
Then rose, ‘And am I mad?’ she said:
She broke her fan, her belt untied;
With leather girt herself instead,
And stuck a dagger at her side.
She waited, shuddering in her room,
Till sleep had fallen on all the house.
She never flinched; she faced her doom:
They two must sin to keep their vows.
She fell, and lay a minute’s space;
She tore the sward in her distress;
The dewy grass refreshed her face;
She rose and ran with lifted dress.
She started like a morn-caught ghost
Once when the moon came out and stood
To watch; the naked road she crossed,
And dived into the murmuring wood.
The branches snatched her streaming cloak;
A live thing shrieked; she made no stay!
She hurried to the trysting-oak—
Right well she knew the way.
She bathed her spirit in the flame,
And near the centre took her post;
From all sides to her ears there came
The dreary anguish of the lost.
The devil started at her side,
Comely, and tall, and black as jet.
‘I am young Malespina’s bride;
Has he come hither yet?’
‘My poppet, welcome to your bed.’
‘Is Malespina here?’
‘Not he! To-morrow he must wed
His cousin Blanche, my dear!’
‘You lie, he died with me to-night.’
‘Not he! It was a plot…’ ‘You lie!’
‘My dear, I never lie outright.’
‘We died at midnight, he and I.’
She dared to make herself at home
Amidst the wail, the uneasy stir.
The blood-stained flame that filled the dome,
Scentless and silent, shrouded her.
How long she stayed I cannot tell;
But when she felt his perfidy,
She marched across the floor of hell;
And all the damned stood up to see.
The devil stopped her at the brink:
She shook him off; she cried,‘Away!’
‘My dear, you have gone mad, I think.’
‘I was betrayed: I will not stay.’
To her it seemed a meadow fair;
And flowers sprang up about her feet
She entered heaven; she climbed the stair
And knelt down at the mercy-seat.
Seraphs and saints with one great voice
Welcomed that soul that knew not fear.
Amazed to find it could rejoice,
Hell raised a hoarse, half-human cheer.
15 Mar 2013 16 Comments
In acceptance posts for previous award nominations, I’ve listed the reasons why I think these awards are good things for individual bloggers and the community in general. This particular award blew my mind a little, though, because I was nominated for it almost simultaneously by three of my favorite bloggers.
Britt, at http://fairytaleepidemic.wordpress.com/, is smart, funny and unbelievably talented; a truly lovely young woman both inside and out. Her poetry is some of the most honest it’s ever been my privilege to read, and she posts music videos that keep me from becoming a total Classic Rock dinosaur. She’s “Chicklet” to my “Mama Hen”, and that’s a good thing, Martha.
Matthew, at http://matthewkirshenblatt.wordpress.com/ , is one of the sharpest young minds around, yet writes with the wisdom of an old soul. His posts are often funny and always thought-provoking, and he’s just an all around good guy. That he considers my blog award-worthy is an honor that I don’t take lightly.
My hillbilly buddy lovinchelle, at http://lovinchelle.wordpress.com/….well, what can I say. If you’re really lucky or really blessed, depending on your theological view, you have a friend like him. He’s a no drama, down to earth kind of guy with incredible talent. He’s got a way of cutting through all the distracting nonsense and seeing the beauty of simplicity.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I think the world of all three of you, and I am truly grateful for your consideration.
Here’s how this works:
1) Display the award on your blog
2) Link back to the person who nominated you
3) State 7 things about yourself
4) Nominate 15 bloggers for this award
5) Notify those bloggers of the nomination by linking to one of their specific post so that they get notified by pingback
As you can see, I slacked off on nominating 15 people. It’s not that I don’t think the other bloggers I follow are inspiring, it’s just that I’ve nominated them for awards before, they were all good sports about it, and I don’t want to piss them off! I still think these awards are a great way to discover new blogs, but although the procedures are fairly simple they can be time-consuming. Whether they choose to participate or not, I urge you to click the links below; these are some excellent posts from excellent writers and photographers.
Ok, so here’s the part that always hangs me up – writing about myself. Ask me to list seven things about my critters and it’s a snap. Writing seven things about myself makes my brain itch. But here we go:
play the lottery pay into my retirement plan once a week.
I’m seriously considering going back to school so I can find a job that will finance my farming habit.
My new favorite author is Nevada Barr.
I know I’m a child of the Universe and have a right to be here, but I have a real problem with accepting what I cannot change. If I can’t change it, I aggravate the tar out of someone who can.
My favorite bumper sticker is “Hey, where are we going and why are we in this handbasket?”
When I was 17, I got busted for climbing a water tower. I’d do it again in a heartbeat – the view was amazing.
I cook with wine a lot. Sometimes I even put it in the food.
Whew! Thanks again to Britt, Matthew, lovinchelle and all the other bloggers who inspire me.
11 Mar 2013 18 Comments
After six weeks of apoplexy-inducing interaction with an unscrupulous computer “repair” business, my laptop is once again ensconced on my lap. Needless to say I’m delighted, unlike my cat Puh, who keeps shooting me narrow-eyed dirty looks because he no longer has access to said lap. He’ll get over it, and I’m trying to. Instead of dwelling on the negative (the previously mentioned business, which is apparently staffed by chimps with hammers), I’m trying to focus on the genius and generosity of Thomas Vukelic of Cold Springs Computer Repair in Harrodsburg, KY. In one week and for half the cost, he corrected the original problem as well as repairing the damage caused by the tool-wielding primates.
I’ve missed you guys! Scanning through the comments you’ve left reminded me just how wonderful the net can be, and how great it feels to have access to such a talented group of people. It’s going to take me awhile to get caught up, but I’m chomping at the bit to read what you’ve written and see what you’ve painted and photographed. Thanks for all the good vibes and kind words. We now resume our irregularly scheduled programming…
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